Having gone through the finish four years ago, I sort of knew what to expect even though the context was very different from what it was four years ago, I was starving and the finish was different.
This year, I didn't stop to rescue Jean Le Cam so I had a faster race time. I knew I could trust the equipment, the boat and my own abilities. We worked hard so we knew we could have high hopes, even though you can never be sure of what the others can do. And the start of the race proved us right, we were ahead with the favourites - even though Vincent had to retire - and the rhythm was very intense. Jean-Pierre, François, Bernard and myself imposed a very fast rhythm on the race. When I rounded Cape Horn, a little bit more than an hour after François, I felt reasonably good and confident.
I 've thought about what the deciding moment was for a few days now, and I think it was in the Lemaire straights, where the gennaker lashing broke. There were 25 knots of wind, it was dark, and it took me about two hours to fix it. Of course, François kept going, he was 20 miles ahead in the morning and because of a high pressure, 20 miles turned to 40 miles. I had to do a lot of tacks and gybes in five hours, the wind was mostly gone and the little wind I had kept changing. I think that made a difference. It's a series of little details, really. I couldn't catch up with François even if he was slower in the end of the race.
If I could choose between winning the Vendée Globe and beating the record, I'd choose the win, of course. Finishing second is a disappointment but I'm still proud of what I did, it's not like I finished 5 days behind François. It's been a very close race between the two of us. I've analysed and understood what happened, I'll think about it a little bit more in the near future, and I'll learn from that. I'm 99% happy with my race.
I don't regret any of the choices I made before the start. MACIF and Banque Populaire are quite similar boats, they're sister ships, but they have small details that differ. We also made slightly different sails choices before the race. I don't think the boats speeds made the difference. We both had strengths and weaknesses and we dealt with tit. The difference came from our different reactions to weather conditions, not from the boats themselves.
I'm not surprised to see François do so well. He has great people around him and he is very talented. I've trained with him a lot, I know how great and meticulous he is. I knew he could have a great race, and that his lack of experience was not an issue. When I was ahead, I kept thinking he was going to let go at one point but he never did, it's been a great fight.
I guess I don't really realize how spectacular our race time is. We've just got here, we'll read the newspapers tomorrow and maybe we'll realise then, once see the statistics, the average speeds and all. And I also know it will all be about François, he won, I'm only second.
Yes I am happy with this performance and I am happy for myself, for the team that has been working with me for two years. I have a thought for the skippers who had to retire from the race and who supported me. I'm very happy with the Crozet gate and the way I dealt with it, it was a tactical move, and there were not that many in this race. I didn't gain much but it was satisfying. François found better solutions than me.
Once in the Doldrums, I thought I was going to be able to come back, and even in the Saint Helena highs. I know people lit candles for me throughout Brittany. But I knew I was more than 100 miles behind François who was really fast and making no mistake. So when I reached Cape Verde, I realised it was going to be too difficult.
I had to climb up the mast twice in the Pacific to take care of a stuck hook. After the Doldrums, my genoa got stuck too, which slowed me down a little bit. I did not lose any sails. All my sails are in good shape onboard. The problems I had were with the hooks.
We don't want to let people know about our weaknesses, so sometimes, we do say we're all fine when it's not necessarily true. But in my case, it's not like I lied about something very serious that had happened. I did have a few little things that were not working, but people in my team helped me solve them.
I feel good, I feel better than four years ago, when I had collapsed a few hours after the press conference. I didn't sleep much last night because I worked hard to be here with you on time. I will need some more time to digest all these emotions. I want to thank my team, they're great, and I want to congratulate François, who is a great winner, I'm happy to be second behind him."